The Green Paradox

 Before we go Down The Rabbit Hole for a little “Blatant Disregard” let get caught up. The Harvard Review reports that the PDVSA infrastructure collapse is causing widespread oil spills,pollution, and contamination. Just ask anybody in Maracaibo, the city in the heart of the oil producing region. Lake Maracaibo is black. The environmental damage and health risks extend to the entire country, the region, and some say the world. Thus far PDVSA has shown no ability nor interest in cleaning up oil spills  or addressing pollution in general.

 The article discussed a term I was unfamiliar with, “The Green Paradox”. It is the environmental damage created by oil producing countries that pursue unrestricted oil production in a rush to beat diversification away from fossil fuels. They ignore all environmental concerns in a mad dash to pump as much oil as possible. It is a forward looking term but Venezuela has been there for some time. The only thing keeping Venezuela from doing even more environmental damage is that PDVSA’s production is kept in check by their own ineptitude, which is almost hard to believe as they were the envy of the oil producing world before Chavismo took the reins.

 A lot of oil producing nations see the handwriting on the wall and are becoming more involved in green energy projects while keeping to their OPEC quotas, which usually means production restrictions. They are attempting to pursue some form of transition to the future. The case is different in Venezuela.They are producing as much oil as they possibly can and still produce about 25% (and sometimes much less) of their OPEC quota. In Maduro’s entire time in office they have never reached their quota. They pay lip service to transitioning away from being solely dependent on oil but it still accounts for 96% – 98% of their (legal) revenue.

 In their current status as a mafia state,authoritarian,kleptocracy the only hope for Venezuela and the environment is a transition, not towards green energy but away from Chavismo.

 This was followed up by a piece in about a speech by Maduro. “With …..Chavez…the beginning of the leading democracy…” A leading democracy, really. Freedom House rated the Maduro government a zero out of four for adherence to democracy.

 Then you have state owned media outlet, Telesur, telling us that Amazon deforestation is the highest in a decade. It was meant as a slam against Brazil’s leader, Bolsonaro, but does anybody believe the deforestation is any better on the Venezuela side of the border?

 And there is yet another environmental concern facing Venezuela, Urban Deforestation. We have talked before about the shortage of cooking gas causing many Venezuelans to resort to wood fires. There is also an issue with Chavista developments,as well as others, cutting down a huge number of trees for cosmetic purposes. Their new projects simply are more pleasing to the eye,they think, if they cut down all the trees surrounding them for a better view. Besides being completely misguided and causing environmental impact it will have a negative impact on future tourism as in much of Venezuela part of the attraction for tourists has been the beautiful tree lined thoroughfares.

 How about a couple of health related items? Lexblog reported the other day that there is a salmonella outbreak in Venezuela. The interesting thing is not the total numbers,550 people sick, but that it killed two people.

 Caracas Chronicles reports that Venezuela has it’s first case of the rare Black Fungus….Yikes! If past is prologue it won’t be the last. Also in Caracas Chronicles we have more protests at JM de los Rios Hospital.They are both protesting supply shortages and pleading that transplants be reactivated. Ho Hum…

 But don’t worry, the UN is on top of things.They issued an official statement that they have appointed both a resident coordinator and a humanitarian coordinator for Venezuela. They also report that the move was met with the host country’s approval. I wonder if it will take them two years to find an office like the situation with the UN Human Rights mission to Venezuela?

In other news we have the AP reporting that a Miami businessman has been arrested for colluding with a Thailand asphalt company in an effort to circumvent sanctions. Jorge Nobrega sold fire suppressant foam to the Venezuelan military, was paid by the Thai company, and they received discounts from PDVSA (military run). The amount in this case is only (note, I say only) about $8 million but this stuff is everywhere you look pertaining to Venezuela.

 Now, lets dive Down The Rabbit Hole ….

 Chapter 11 – Blatant Disregard

 Nicolas Maduro was elected president of Venezuela in 2013 after the death of Hugo Chavez.The election was extremely close and there have been widespread allegations that his opponent,Henrique Capriles,actually won. For our purposes here let’s assume Maduro won the election fair and square.The presidential term in Venezuela is six years and Maduro demonstrated early on it would be a long six years. The Guarimba of 2014 left over 40 dead and hundreds wounded with people protesting food shortages as Maduro let it be known that he would respond to protesters with bullets and jail time. Opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, who called for peaceful, I REPEAT PEACEFUL, demonstrations, was jailed for inciting violence and instability. He spent over three years in jail and a couple more under house arrest. He eventually sought refuge at the Spanish Embassy and later escaped Venezuela. I used to joke “If you think this is bad wait a few years when we’ll consider this the good old days.” It turns out that may have been the height of Maduro’s popularity.

 In 2015 Venezuela had elections for the National Assembly, similar to US congressional elections. Although Maduro’s popularity was on the decline it was widely thought that it would be difficult for the opposition to overcome the Chavista political machine. The drop in oil prices had already hit but with the elections coming up Maduro borrowed $5 billion from the Chinese so that the Chavistas could deliver the expected largess.

 Then came the big December Surprise. With a high voter turnout of over 74% the opposition swept to victory in 112 of 167 races. This gave them 67% of the seats in the assembly. With the 2/3 super majority,just barely, they would have wide latitude to effect a lot of changes including appointments (and firings) in the TSJ, Venezuela’s Supreme Court, and even a possible presidential recall election.Optimism was high that after a decade and a half of Chavismo change was in the air.

 To be continued…..

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